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"Middle Date" Saint-Gaudens

October2015 Spotlight F
1908 – 1916 $20 ‘Middle Date’ Saint-Gaudens

The $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle needs no introduction to you — or to numismatists in general. It is one of the most celebrated and universally recognized of all United States coins. Its stunning design, created by famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and commissioned by President Roosevelt, is both stunning and timeless.

In fact, the design continues to live on as the motif for the American gold eagle bullion coin. Put simply, the big, beautiful, $20 ‘Saint’ is a wildly popular coin whose fame seems to grow with each passing year.

Despite being such a well-known coin, several dates within the $20 Saint-Gaudens series remain highly underrated. It is common knowledge among numismatists that there are six extremely common dates: 1908 No Motto, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928.

These issues are always available, even in MS65 and MS66. When asked to name the ‘key’ dates, most numismatists think of major rarities like the 1921, 1927-D, 1927-S, 1931 and 1932. These can be prohibitively expensive issues that are worth anywhere from $50,000-$2,000,000.

Lost in the middle, however, are some extremely tough dates that fail to get the respect they deserve. These issues were struck from 1908-1916 and are dozens of times rarer than the most common dates. A surplus of $20 Saints developed in 1908, so mintages were scaled back tremendously until stockpiles returned to normal in the 1920’s. Consequently, most of the dates from this era have surprisingly low mintage figures — and survival rates.

This month, we have put together a small group of these ‘middle date’ Saints minted between 1908 and 1916. Call 800-831-0007 or email me today to add these $20 Saint-Gaudens ‘Double Eagle’ coins to your portfolio. We have less than 60 coins, so don’t wait.

History and Background

Initially, the United States Mint struggled to perfect and produce the $20 Saint. In its original form, the coin’s design was extremely complicated and difficult to execute. Augustus Saint-Gaudens intended for the coin to be struck in extremely high relief, but doing so required an excessive amount of minting pressure and force. After numerous revisions, the Mint switched to a lower-relief version that was much easier to mass-produce. By that point, however, much of the year had already passed.

By 1908, the kinks had been worked out and it was full steam ahead for the $20 Saint. The Philadelphia Mint struck millions of Double Eagles in the first half of the year. For this reason, the 1908 ‘No Motto’ issue is one of the most common dates in the series. Not only did the issue have an extremely high mintage, but the 1908 ‘No Motto’ was hoarded by banks all across the world. One notable cache, the Wells Fargo Hoard, contained nearly 20,000 pieces of which some graded as high as MS69!

Later in 1908, there was a subtle change to the $20 Saint-Gaudens design. The original version lacked the emblem ‘In God We Trust,’ which had appeared on Double Eagles since 1866. The public was outraged that this motto was removed, so it was restored back to the $20 Double Eagle in late 1908. The result is 1908 ‘With Motto’ Double Eagles are dramatically scarcer than their extremely common ‘No Motto’ counterpart.

While Philadelphia’s production was robust in 1908, mintage levels were anemic in Denver and San Francisco. The Philadelphia Mint serviced the needs of the heavily populated eastern seaboard and Europe; both markets demanded huge quantities of Double Eagles. The western half of the United States did not require nearly the same quantity of coinage. For this reason, one almost never sees 1908 Saints with Denver or San Francisco mintmarks.

For Double Eagles, the production boom of 1908 was followed up by years of anemic mintages. All three active mints, including Philadelphia, cut back their $20 releases substantially and kept mintages low through the teens. A huge surplus of 1908 ‘No Motto’ $20’s remained for years and this overhang would not be absorbed for over a decade.

Amazingly, so many coins remained, that all United States gold coin production halted altogether in 1917. Not a single gold piece of any denomination was struck in 1917, 1918 or 1919. Finally, after the oversupply had dissipated, the federal government resumed making gold coins in the early to mid-1920’s.

‘Middle Dates’

The 1908-1916 ‘With Motto’ $20 Saints are actually quite scarce. Relatively few were struck, and a smaller percentage of the coins landed in bank vaults. Therefore, these issues are many, many times rarer than common dates like the 1924, and are less likely to be seen in higher grades.

In today’s marketplace, finding hundreds of 1924 or 1908 ‘No Motto’ Saints is never a problem; they are always available in quantity. Finding just a handful of 1911-D’s, 1912’s or 1914-D’s, on the other hand, can be quite a challenge.

Based on years of dealing with $20 Saints, we’ve come to realize how tough ‘middle dates’ truly are to acquire. This anecdotal evidence is backed up by the PCGS population reports, which shows that middle dates are 25-85 times scarcer than the most common issues. In MS62, a common date like 1924 has a population of over 43,000 pieces. In the same grade, these middle dates have extremely modest populations in the range of just 500-1,500!

Given that these dates are 25-85 times rarer, one would expect they would sell for a hefty premium. Somehow, in today’s market, they don’t. The 1908-1916 ‘With Motto’ middle dates can be bought for less than a 50% premium compared to the ‘generic’ dates, despite being dozens of times rarer. They are essentially hiding in plain sight! These issues are harder to find than many $20 Saints in the $5,000-$10,000 range! The market is currently (and severely) undervaluing this group of dates, but we do not expect this phenomenon to last for long.

Like most of our spotlight offerings, our current group of $20 ‘With Motto’ middle dates took quite some time to accumulate. This cache of less than 60 pieces required close to a year of searching and waiting for coins to slip through the cracks. During that time period, we could have bought thousands of common date MS62’s, but were only able to find a few of these greatly underappreciated 1908-1916 ‘With Motto’ issues.

Take Advantage!

If you were fortunate enough to take advantage of our 1908-1915 $2.50 Indian, $5 Indian and $10 Indian Spotlight Coins, we especially encourage you to consider this offering of $20 Saints in PCGS MS62. We have a small quantity of dates that would allow you to create a 2-coin, 3-coin or 4-coin date set. This is a great way to pick up an underrated item — and add value to your existing holdings. Sets are considered extremely desirable to collectors and are often worth more than the sum of their parts.In summary, not all rare-date $20 Saints have to cost $50k, $250k or $2mm. These scarcer issues are wildly rarer than the common dates, but don’t carry the hefty price tag. They can be had for less than a 50% premium over generic issues, but are anywhere from 25-85 times rarer. As mentioned, these dates seem to be hiding in plain sight, but eventually the market will realize how undervalued they are. At current levels, these ‘With Motto’ dates are the best opportunity in the Saint-Gaudens series.

We have less than 60 coins available. All coins are certified by either NGC or PCGS. We are offering them (delivered) at the following prices.

MS62 $20 ‘Middle Date’ Gold Saint-Gaudens 1908 – 1916 - Call for price & availability

Dates included are:

1908 w/Motto 1911-S
1908-D w/Motto 1912
1909 1913
1909-S 1913-D
1910-D 1914
1910-S 1914-D
1911 1915
1911-D 1916-S

There is no additional cost for shipping, handling or insurance. While supplies last, the price you see is the price you pay.

Call 800-831-0007 or email me today to purchase your coins and to take advantage of this low price before the market discovers the price anomaly.

*Prices are subject to change based upon product availability and due to market fluctuation.